Archive for May, 2011

Life in the Office.

This Post is dedicated to the NBC show The Office. Joanna and I have started watching the show again, and it has reminded us why we started watching it in the first place. What makes shows like this so loveable is how we can relate to the characters. We are all forced to work with or live near characters that we would otherwise never want to include in our lives. This show is dedicated to these people, and I want to show some of the characters that are prevalent in my life.

First there is Jim. Jim is you. He is an easy going guy who works his 9 to 5 just to get by. He likes sports, is a people person, lives to for the weekend, and tries to have fun during the work hours. Even if this doesn’t describe much of you, he is personable and fun, so it is natural that you like him.

Then there is Dwight. Dwight does not quite live in the same world that we do. He has no sense o style, a freaky affinity for ancient weapons, a thorough  working knowledge of all Lord of the Rings books, and owns every episode of Battlestar Gallactica. He has trouble discerning his fantasy worlds with this one, and has no time for jokes or shenanigans. Dwight knows of a hundred different ways to kill a man, but he is most likely harmless. This guy genuinely thinks in black and white, and sees him self a champion for the good of mankind.

There is also Andy. Andy sings incessantly, and likes to remind you where he went to college. He thinks that he is the coolest thing on the planet cause he used to be in an A Capella group, but this is a soft, thin shell that can cause you to see what an insecure boy is underneath. He loves jokes, but if the joke is ever on him, then he is prone to freak.

Then there is Angela. She is the most judgmental person in the world. Her religious beliefs seem to be important to her, but to be honest, shes just looking to condemn others. She is a caricature of herself; always acting like she is too good for other people, because she prefers the company of her cats. She never lets down her guard and never lets you get away with anything. The little Tattletale thinks that jokes and fun are for the lazy and unproductive.

Sound familiar? Theres so many more, just check out the show, starting from Season 1.


Where Were You?

We have very few moments in our life that everyone remembers. Sure Mom and Dad remember your birth, friends remember their favorite concert, and too many people remember the time you rear ended the mail truck, and had to pay to fix his rickety little vehicle. But what about memories shared across a state? Across a nation? What do we have that everyone in our country will remember in the future?

I had a professor that first inspired this; He told me about where he was when he first saw the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show. He told me how he sat down in front of his television set as a kid, and watched as he knew history was being made. He was right too, they won 7 Grammys, put out dozens of albums, and are still one of the most easily recognized artists 50 years later.

He told us about how everyone in his generation knew exactly where they were and what was going on when they saw The Beatles, whether they were rushing home from work, sitting in a friend’s dorm room, or waiting to make a major life decision. It was a defining moment that everyone in our country shared and brought them together.

He then told us the same thing about when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. No matter where they were or what they were doing, everyone dropped what they were doing to see what was the most amazing technological leap of its time. As Neil Armstrong set his first steps on the moon, it was no doubt that history was made once again. Unity and an unadulterated since of patriotism filled all of them as they knew that our free country had beaten the Russians, and finally made it across space to our moon.

It saddens me to say that we have only one of these moments, maybe two now. We don’t have any great moment to bring us together and unify us under happy times. We only have the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks.

I remember being a Junior in High School walking into my chorus class as I saw the first tower fall. I just stood there staring dumbfounded as I tried to comprehend what was going on. I think I went through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression all at the same time. It just seemed like a hoax, and I wanted to know why someone would play this mean of a joke on me.

I worked with a girl that was visiting New York that day. She told me about the sheer panic as she tried to find a way home, taking a train two days after she was supposed to fly home. It hit us all hard, didn’t it?

The 9/11 attacks were our “Where Were You?” moment. It brought us together as we knew that life wouldn’t be the same. Life never was the same either, even though we all tried to return to our normal lives. History was made, and there was no going back.

This was however, still a moment that brought us together. We felt stronger, felt more alive, felt more cohesive with our fellow countrymen than we ever have before. We watched as our heroes risked everything to save so many people from the wreckage. We smiled at our Policemen and Firemen, knowing that they would do the same for us if a tragedy struck our city. It was a bonding experience that we all walked away from better than on 9/10.

I still hope, though. I hope we get to have a more innocent “Where were you” moment one like The Beatles or the Moon Landing. One of these days I hope we get to feel that sense of Patriotism without such sorrow. But, for today, at least we get a certain level of closure to know that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

God Bless America.

Southern Strong

This is a special post to help promote a cause that my wife, Joanna, has started. It has to do with the awful weather that struck and demolished so many cities just this past week. Here is the link

I can still remember every detail on Good Friday 2009. Joanna and I were getting ready to head into Knoxville, and we decided to wait out the coming storm at her parents home. I didn’t even realize a storm was coming. I even check the weather- I never checked the weather. The Weather Channel was playing as we came in, and I suddenly realized how serious the incoming storm was.

We kept one eye on the TV and one eye on the clouds outside.  A funnel cloud had been spotted over Murfreesboro, and as best we could tell, it was headed in our direction. A strange fear set in as I felt so out of control. This wasn’t the feeling you get when you pass a cop car when you speed, its the numbing feeling that reaches from the top of your spine and spreads ice all the way down to your feet.

The tornado missed us by about half of a mile. For me- I had lived in Murfreesboro for almost four years, I had just bought a house, and was beginning to call this city my home. For Joanna- she had lived here her whole life. She knew someone on every street, and had gone to school with  most of their kids.

We spent most of that weekend helping out our neighbors. We literally chainsawed trees out of houses, cleared debris, and helped salvage what we could from other’s houses. Churches opened their doors, but no one came; everyone had already found a place to stay.

Now, two years later, I can absolutely say that we are stronger for it. Houses have been rebuilt, stores are up and running again, and we have moved on with our lives.

Now another awful disaster has struck our country. An estimated 300 are dead,  so many homes are gone, and people are stranded miles away from what they know. I heard an interview on the radio of a woman who had lost her home. The newsman asked her “What do you do now?” and after a long, pensive pause she replied “I dont know”.

“You rebuild it! You make your city better for it!” I screamed at the radio. It was easy for me to have so much hope, I was on the other side of a disaster. She was swimming in the middle of it.

Then, we tried to see if we could help. As we researched the area and saw that The Red Cross was overwhelmed with help. Thats what inspired Joanna and Ashlea to start this site. They decided to use their talents to help in a different way. As both are designers, they went to work on designing T-shirts and the website.

These events are what inspired the term Southern Strong. It portrays the people who are strong enough to pull through any disaster, and the masses of people who dropped whatever they were doing just to help their fellow man. It stirs a certain pride in us that makes us feel like more than just southerners or Americans.

So heres the link once more: Like it on facebook, follow it on twitter, and buy a shirt to help the American Red Cross in helping those who are in need of a helping hand.

Music to buy; rock

Well I know what you’re probably thinking- you’re thinking ‘Dan Jones, I’m loaded with cash, I love music, and I want you to tell you to tell me what to buy!’

No? Ok, I still have some suggestions for you.

I love music. I struggle to think of any genre of music that I dont like. Even music I dont regularly listen to, I have an appreciation for everything. Today’s topic is a broad one; Rock music.

In short, Rock has been around since the 1940s. It stems from old time blues music made by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, W.C. Handy, and Robert Johnson. Johnson was arguably the originator of Rock and Roll, writing classics that are still sung today by huge artists like Clapton and John Mayer. It has worn many faces, and changed many times, but it still keeps pieces of origins.

#1 Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton has been playing the rock and blues for longer than most of my readers were alive. Starting off in a band called The Yardbirds, he grew to fame almost immediately after joining the band. He has been in Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and in a very effective solo career.

I very rarely suggest buying “Best of” albums, in short I think that its not the way most music is intended, but in Clapton’s case there is little choice. Unless youre into collecting vinyls, you will find it very hard to come across his albums.

#2 Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck was in the Yardbirds as well. He has grown into a blues/rock/jazz musician, and loves to prove that there is nothing he cant do. With his guitar in his hands, he becomes a jack of all trades and merges with whatever artist he is around.

You can pick up Emotion and Commotion and learn what hes all about. He also plays some killer tracks with artists like Joss Stone, and really brings out an old time Rock and Roll that . He also does a killer song with Imogen Heap in his Live at Ronnie Scott’s. You can watch it here;

#3 Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters started off as more of a grunge rock band, not reaching too far from Grohl’s roots in Nirvana, but they have grown over the years, and have perfected their own unique version of rock. They still hold to that old grunge feel, but they have refined their tastes at the same time. You can check out their latest album Wasting Light and see what they are all about. Two albums from them? The Color and the Shape is my favorite, and I know I have already plugged that album several times before.

#4 Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams is first and foremost an Alternative Country artist, but his album Rock and Roll is a brilliant display of how much he knows about rock music. With songs like “This is it”, and “1974” he blows the album up with a genuine classic rock feel. Its only disappointment is towards the end of the album when he sings “Everybodys cool playing rock and roll, but I dont feel cool, feel cool at all”, so I suppose that he quit the rock and roll scene and returned to the Alt Country scene, because he never put out a sequel.

#5 People in Planes
The next band is what I think would technically be considered Alternative Rock, but its roots are so steeped in classic rock that I think its unfair to put them in the same category as Alt Rock bands like Hinder and Disturbed. People in Planes is a great band that has really brought back a classic rock feel that I havent heard from a contemporary band in a long time. Its a tough call to say which of their two albums to buy, but I think that I slightly prefer “As Far as the Eye Can See” to “Beyond the Horizon”.

Just you wait, I have every genre keyed up for you. Polka is gonna be a tough one.